Through organized systems and productive habits, we help busy professionals work more efficiently and make time for what matters most. While many of you are working from home and some may have kids attending school virtually, it’s more important than ever to incorporate habits and routines into your day (and theirs) so things don’t slip through the cracks.
Part 1 of this blog series focused on getting students started for Virtual School Success with the physical part of organizing their space and their stuff. Now, let’s talk about how they can plan their time, their schedule and create daily habits so they are fully prepared for Virtual School Success!
Unlike elementary school, when parents are very involved in many aspects of their child’s life, middle school is a time for the kids themselves to learn how to manage their time and get things done. When they learn to do so efficiently and successfully, they’ll also discover they’ll end up with more time for the things outside of school that they care about. We all get the same 24 hours in a day and it is up to us to learn how to best use that time. When kids create their own age appropriate new habits, they can be in control of their time. Some great suggested habits to help maximize their time are listed below. Help your kids establish some routines around these ideas and strategies so that they are applied consistently and deliver consistent results.
One productivity strategy we teach is that every time we say “yes” to a request for our time, we are also saying “no” to anything else we might have done with that time. For example, when you say “yes” to another volunteer position or another project at work, it may mean that you are saying “no” to more time with your family or time for yourself. It is important to keep the trade-off in mind before you over-commit to something.
It is the same for students. For example, if they say “yes” to spending time checking their phone or texting friends, they are saying “no” to getting homework done. But sometimes “yes” is good – for example, time spent effectively doing homework is a “no” to incomplete assignments or poor grades!
To help students take control of their time and create habits to be more efficient and successful, there are a couple of habits to implement:
- Use a planner– A planner is an essential tool for helping students keep track of their assignments and commitments and to support their time and project management (such as managing larger projects, papers, or presentations). Planners help keep track of what they need to do, helps them to chunk and consolidate their time, and makes them more efficient. When using a planner, be sure to include all time commitments not just school work: add appointments, family get togethers, sports practices, etc. A planner will show how to plan the flow of work. For example, if your student has a goal to finish a big assignment in 2 weeks, what are they going to do on Tuesday to start that process or on Thursday to keep process moving?
- Know their goals – unless you know where you’re headed, it’s easy to get lost. What is it that your student needs to accomplish? Make sure they have a study buddy or someone they are accountable to when there is work to complete. Help them to know their direction, purpose and goals for their classes or semester.
- Eliminate distractions – with kids in school virtually, it is a bigger challenge than ever to eliminate distractions that get in the way of learning. In school, there are rules around not using cell phones, for example. When learning from home, teach your student to put their phone away so they can focus on the tasks at hand. Turn off notifications, and remove visual distractions from their workspace and turn them into a reward when they finish their work!
- Don’t multitask – kids may think it’s more efficient to do multiple things at once, but in truth they lose time whenever they switch tasks. If they concentrate and spend a block of time studying, have them also schedule a block of time in their planner for the next thing.
- Establish habits and routines – when learning virtually, school bells aren’t ringing. Students need to control their time by having a routine. 15 minutes before school starts, they should move to their workspace, check their computer, join their virtual classroom and get settled into school mode. Have them write down their action plan for the day: what do they need to accomplish? Then, at end of day, do a double check – what did they miss, did they turn in homework, was it uploaded, was there anything they didn’t get done that needs to get on tomorrow’s schedule – then have them clear off their desk (like at school they clean up their desk and put it everything in their backpack – this is a good habit to maintain!). Put a note anywhere they’ll see it to remind them of their daily routines.
- Practice self-care – make sure they are eating right, getting enough sleep at night, getting some physical movement and outdoor time each day, and drinking enough water. When they practice self-care, they will have the energy and motivation for their day!
Let us partner with your student for virtual school success! When your student is organized and productive around their school work, you’ll have more time for your work and for other things that matter to you. Win win!